Touch me not

Why is it that directors and choreographers feel they need to take perfectly good material and add their own ham-handed touches? James Kudelka, then of the National Ballet, to my mind ruined several productions, including Swan Lake and The Nutcracker. Except for taking my grandchildren to The Nutcracker a few times, I have refused to attend anything by the National Ballet since.

Lezlie Wade, who directs H.M.S. Pinafore at Stratford this summer, has been equally busy with equally predictable results. For reasons unknown, Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pinafore opens in an estate where the war wounded are being cared for, then switches to the more usual ship. The “play-within-a-play” framing device is totally unnecessary.

Wade has also introduced far too much slap-stick for my liking: sailors getting a foot stuck in a pail, one of the “sisters, cousins and aunts” throwing up for no apparent reason, people getting knocked over too many times by an oar, you get the idea.

Ah, but the music is perfectly delightful and escapes unscathed. “When I was a lad I served a term” sounds just like the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company version that I heard playing on my father’s Victrola when I was a lad. So, will I complain? No, never. Well, hardly ever.

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